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Rockaways Mourn Loss of Mother, Son

November 14, 2001

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Kathy Johnson stood on a street corner outside her church Tuesday, fighting back tears as she spoke about the neighbors she fears are dead in the wreckage of American Flight 587.

Johnson, who lives a block from the crash scene, said she was on the phone when the plane crashed Monday. She ran down the block, where she saw the home of Kathie Lawler, 48, and her son, Christopher, 24.

``It was just like a bomb had hit it,″ Johnson said.

The Lawlers were among five people still missing in the Rockaway Beach neighborhood Tuesday, one day after the crash that killed all 260 people aboard.

Beside the Lawlers, police identified those missing as Thomas Concannon, 79, and his wife Helen, 73; and Frank Pomponio, who was in his 40s.

The neighborhood lost scores of people in the World Trade Center attack on Sept. 11. Just last week, parishioners packed St. Francis de Sales Church for a service honoring the memory of a firefighter who died in the trade center.

``We’re supporting each other, trying to strengthen each other with our prayers and our love,″ said Monsignor Martin Geraughty, pastor at St. Francis.

Friends and neighbors said the Lawler family includes Kathie’s husband, Tom, her two daughters and another son. She worked as a secretary at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn.

Christopher Lawler was in his second year at St. John’s Law School after graduating in 1999 from Loyola College in Baltimore, where he studied history and business.

The younger Lawler lost a close friend in the trade center: 23-year-old Charles Heeran, a trader for Cantor Fitzgerald. He wrote a tribute to his friend that the bond firm carries on its Web site.

``I don’t really know how to explain just how special Charlie was but when God placed him on this Earth, we were blessed with an absolute one-of-a-kind person,″ Lawler wrote. ``I will tell you that nothing makes me more proud than to be able to have called Charlie Heeran one of my best friends. I miss you every day pal.″

Frank DeRosa, a spokesman for the Brooklyn diocese, confirmed that Christopher Lawler’s body had been recovered.

Gov. George Pataki visited the neighborhood Tuesday and said the death toll could have been much higher: The plane appeared to plummet straight down, destroying only a handful of houses.

``For all the tragedies, thank God it didn’t go across, or it would have destroyed many, many lives,″ Pataki said. ``I could envision it sliding across the island, how terrible it would be.″

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On the Net:

Cantor tributes: http://www.cantorfamilies.com:80/cantor/jsp/index.jsp

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